Ivan III of Russia

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Ivan III Vasilyevich (Russian: Иван III Васильевич) (22 January 1440, Moscow – 27 October 1505, Moscow), also known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus" (Великий князь всея Руси). Sometimes referred to as the "gatherer of the Russian lands", he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde over the Rus, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, and laid the foundations of the Russian state. He was one of the longest-reigning Russian rulers in history.

Contents

Background

Ivan's parents were Vasily II and Maria of Borovsk. He was co-regent with his father during the later years of his life and succeeded him in 1462. Ivan tenaciously pursued the unifying policy of his predecessors. Nevertheless, he was cautious to the point of timidity. He avoided as far as possible any violent collision with his neighbors until all the circumstances were exceptionally favorable, always preferring to attain his ends gradually and circuitously. The Grand Duchy of Moscow had by this time become a compact and powerful state, whilst her rivals had grown weaker, a state of affairs very favorable to the speculative activity of a statesman of Ivan III's peculiar character. Before he died he made an impressive program for, centered around and directed by, Italian artists and craftsmen. His plan was able to make new buildings in Kremlin and the walls were strengthened and furnished with towers and gates. Ivan III reigned for forty three years, dying on October 27, 1505 and he left his empire to his son Vasili.

Gathering of Russian lands

His first enterprise was a war with the Republic of Novgorod, which had fought a series of wars stretching back to at least the reign of Dmitry Donskoi over Moscow's religious and political sovereignty more generally and over Moscow's efforts to seize land in the Northern Dvina region more specifically.[1] Alarmed at Moscow's growing power, Novgorod had negotiated with Lithuania in the hope of placing itself under the protection of Casimir IV, King of Poland and Grand Prince of Lithuania, a would-be alliance regarded by Moscow as an act of apostasy from orthodoxy.[2] Ivan took the field against Novgorod in 1470, and after his generals had twice defeated the forces of the republic, at the Battle of Shelon River and on the Northern Dvina, both in the summer of 1471, the Novgorodians were forced to sue for peace, agreeing to abandon their overtures to Lithuania and ceding a considerable portion of their northern territories, and paying a war indemnity of 15,500 roubles.

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